Explore and Restore Maryland Streams

4) Geomorphology – Measuring the Shape, Flow, and Volume of your stream

Click here for Overall Student Data Sheet for All Stream Activities


Flow rate: The speed, or flow rate, of the water in a stream has a big impact on the life in the stream. The movement of the water impacts how much dissolved oxygen is available for organisms and how easy or difficult it is for the animals to move around. Compare the flow rates in different sections of your stream in thispdf iconinvestigation (Elementary grades).

Different habitats in the stream have different flow rates. Investigate the microhabitats in your stream and how they differ in this pdf iconlesson plan.

Volume: The amount of water in a stream changes often depending on environmental conditions. After a big storm the volume of water passing through a stream can increase immensely. Find out how much water is in your stream by measuring the area of the water in your stream and multiplying this by the flow rate. In this investigation pdf icon "How does Rainfall Affect Stream Health?” calculate the volume in your stream and graph a cross-sectional profile of your stream bed. This will let you monitor how your stream is adapting and coping with irregular precipitation patterns as our climate changes.

Use these pdf icon Stream Cross-section Profiles to see what stage of succession your stream is in. Is it degrading, aggrading, stable, or recovering? These Rosgen profiles are based on a measurement scale designed in the western part of the country so are not a perfect match, but can give students a general tool for drawing conclusions.